By Andy Sambidge
Government official says new visa regulations will help to meet target.
Changes to visa regulations in the UAE could result in the country being free of illegal immigrants by the end of the year, The Ministry of Interior has claimed.
Officials say the new regulations, which come into force on Tuesday, will make it easier to monitor people entering the country through airports, ports and border crossings. Those without valid visas would be arrested and deported by the start of 2009, UAE daily The National reported on Monday.
“We hope with the [new] visa types the Emirates will be free of violators by December,” Brig Gen Nasser Al Menhali, the acting head of the ministry’s Naturalisation and Residency Administration, told the newspaper.
The Ministry of Interior, said officials, would continue its campaigns to arrest and deport those who violated immigration laws.
On Monday, it also emerged that Sharjah’s Naturalisation and Residency Department had deported 581 illegal immigrants in two dozen raids between June 1 and July 23.
The amendments to the visa system, which were announced last month, have received mixed reactions, with the levying of a 500 dirham fee on a visit visa proving to be the most controversial issue.
New categories include visas for study and visits for medical treatment and exhibitions and conferences. Another visa is for guests of the Government.
Other reforms include creating two types of non-renewable visit visas – short-term and long-term – that will allow holders to stay for 30 days and 90 days.
Visas issued before July 29 will be subject to the old bylaw, while the new visas starting from July 30 will be subject to the new law.
Health insurance is now obligatory but an official from the Interior Ministry said no specific companies had been assigned to offer the service.